Back in the very early days of new media, long before the internet
became a mass-market medium, I used to attend 'multimedia' conferences
in Silicon Valley. The people I hung out with were human/computer
interface designers, academics, information architects, games designers
and coders. Not a TV network, advertising agency or media conglomerate
We used phrases such as 'users are producers' and 'content is king'.
IT was all about people interacting with content in the way they wanted,
when they wanted. Fast-forward to the present. In our increasingly
non-linear, multi-platform, time-shifted world, it has struck me how
important good content really is: content is king.
The process of identifying a piece of content, such as a TV show, and
then placing an ad that fits with the viewing demographic is well
But we can no longer guarantee when an audience sees a commercial, nor
the context in which it is viewed. For example, I don't watch Friends at
the scheduled broadcast time, I watch it off a TiVo box on Sunday
This makes the ad for Domino's Pizza rather redundant, time-wise.
OK, TiVo penetration is minuscule right now but time-shift and
video-on-demand are going to be huge and ignoring them will not make
them go away. And while clever ad-insertion technologies will help, the
only sure-fire way of exposing a brand in this new digital space is by
embedding it in the content itself.
Most people's initial thought is of those terrible 'advertorial' shows
or the regulatory issues which prevent programming and advertising from
getting too close to each other.
The future must be to create new genres of show using world-class skills
from the advertising, TV production and interactive worlds. Such content
can work across several platforms such as TV, internet and games
But making new shows is not the only option - the brand could own the
'enhanced content' which runs behind the regular TV programme. The very
nature of a 'show' is going to undergo radical transformation.
A major ad can easily cost more than a TV show. Maybe brands could have
a go at making 30-minute shows rather than 60-second ones, guaranteeing
eyeballs and relevance no matter what time the show is viewed and own a
slice of the intellectual property too?